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Friday, August 3, 2012

FDA Needs to Regulate All Tobacco Products

Yesterday the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new report,Consumption of Cigarettes and Combustible Tobacco in the United States between 2000 and 2012. Although the total use of combustible tobacco products decreased by 27.5% over the time frame, use of non-cigarette combustible tobacco increased by 123%. This suggests that some cigarette smokers are switching to other products and diminishes progress in decreasing combustible tobacco use.

Non-cigarette combustible tobacco products include roll-your-own tobacco products, large and small cigars, loose and pipe tobacco. Such products are exempt from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation. Partnership for Prevention fully supports FDA regulation of ALL tobacco products. Excluding these non-cigarette tobacco products from FDA oversight contributes to their increased use. In particular, consumption of pipe tobacco increased by 482.5%, loose tobacco by 123%, and large cigars by 233%.

Differences in how tobacco products are classified and taxed have caused cigar consumption to increase. Tobacco manufacturers have increased the weight of small cigars, thus allowing them to be classified as large cigars, which are exempt from certain taxes and regulations. However, these cigars resemble a cigarette but are taxed at much lower rate. Similarly, pipe tobacco is now used in roll-your-own cigarettes, prepared using a machine, because it is taxed less than roll-your-own loose tobacco. This can create the illusion that the consumption of roll-your-own cigarettes decreased, when in fact individuals are simply substituting products, and using other methods (a machine versus manually rolling cigarettes) to achieve the same result.

The U.S. Surgeon General and the National Cancer Institute have concluded that cigar smoke can cause cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx and lungs, as well as heart and lung disease. Furthermore, exposure to cigar smoke can increase the risk of infertility, stillbirth and low birth weight. Partnership for Prevention believes yesterday’s CDC report only further highlights the consequences of failing to regulate all combustible tobacco products. There are no safe tobacco products and certain products should not be exempt from regulation.

Posted by: Alyson Hazen Kristensen at 12:00 AM
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Labels: FDA, regulation, tobacco